TfW trains, a perfect storm.

TfW inherited a poor deal from Arriva in 2018, with no plans for new trains. Arriva’s long franchise anticipated no growth and had no requirement to look ahead. So one of TfWs early jobs has been to find additional trains. Unfortunately other franchises got in first and the manufacturers have full order books.

The main order for new trains is with CAF for class 197’s, but these take time and will not be with us until 2022 at the earliest. They have also ordered refurbished suburban trains for Cardiff lines, converted from old London electric trains. These are 2 years late already but hopefully will be in service in 2020. Because of the delay TfW are taking on some old single coach 153’s cascaded from GW and EMR to fill the gap. They have also ordered a small number of converted old London underground trains for use on branch lines in N Wales. These too are late, but are promised in 2020.

At the end of 2109, new regulations kicked in requiring all trains to be suitable for handicapped access and have retention toilets. This has had a big impact in S Wales because the very old Pacer trains were used there. A few remain in service by concession from Westminster, but these must go this year. We do not see them on our line. The 175’s, and 158’s that we see are generally compliant. The 150 and 153’s are variable and TfW have a programme to sort this in 2020.

The old Sprinter sets (150’s and 153’s) have suffered in past autumn periods from wheel slip. This causes flat spots on the wheels and in 2018 was a major cause of trains being out of service. Arriva started a programme of modification with wheel slip prevention (sanding gear) but this was not complete for 2019, so needs further work with trains out of service.

TfW are progressively upgrading 175’s, 158’s, 153’s and 150’s. This includes some external branding, so they are quickly recognised in red and white. This is all aimed at keeping this old stock through until new sets come into service from 2022-3.





TfW have taken over 12 class 170’s trains from Greater Anglia, and whilst they are in service now in South Wales, they are not in as new condition and require work doing on them for continued service. They still be retained for the long term in part as the stock for the Heart of Wales Line. The picture is of a similar class 170 operated by WMT from Shrewsbury to Birmingham.

All these factors conspire to limit the trains available for service, with perhaps only a handful spare each day for maintenance and improvement works. TfW will be working hand to mouth for the next few years before the situation improves. Any new of replacement trains will be welcome where ever they go for service, as they in turn enable other trains to be reallocated into other areas.

No doubt the commissioning of the new CAF trains will be a challenge, and they will learn from the other operators how to get this done efficiently. Fortunately the type of train is already in service with Northern as 195s, so they will have learned from that experience.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email